5 Tips for Targeting Educators in Your Marketing
Standard B2B marketing strategies don't all work when marketing in the education sector. There are many considerations unique to education:
Roles of people involved in a purchase
Tone and approach
Priorities within schools, school districts, and states
This post will cover five tips specific to developing marketing plans when targeting educators.
Tips for Targeting Educators with Marketing
1. Understand what competitors are doing
The most successful marketing plans demonstrate a deep understanding of the external landscape: your competitors and customers. As you develop your marketing plan, put yourself in the shoes of a teacher or administrator. What solutions besides yours will they also be evaluating? How do you compare?
Whether you are new to the market or have been in the industry for years, spend the time to look at what your competitors are doing. Check out their website, social media, and even sign up for their newsletter (using a non-work email address). As you look at what they are doing, try to evaluate it against what you're doing and ask yourself these questions:
Is it clear what type of educator our product is for vs. competitors?
Are we clearly demonstrating how we provide more value than our competitors?
Are we reaching educators in the right places?
Keep in mind that your competitors aren't necessarily doing everything right, so you shouldn't copy what they're doing. Your goal is to understand what they are doing so that you can stand out in the eyes of your prospective customers.
2. Know the right time of year to market
Schools don't run on a typical January to December calendar year. Their fiscal year usually runs from July to June, and most teachers work from August/September to May/June, depending on the state.
In general, most school purchases are made when the budget opens for the year in July, which is also the time for new products or technology to be implemented before the school year starts. December to March is usually when the budget for the following school year, which starts in August or September, is created.
Smaller purchases can be made throughout the year if they fit within the approved operating budget. Schools might also apply and receive grant money throughout the year, which can trigger purchases (see tip #3 for more on this).
For your marketing plan targeting educators, this means that late summer through fall is the most critical time to get your product and brand in front of potential buyers. Run marketing activities that build awareness and consideration for your product, like going to conferences, hosting events, running ads, and sending emails to make people aware of what you can do for them. Offer trials, complimentary consultations, or free marketing content, like on-demand webinars.
The winter and spring are critical times for nurturing leads while also continuing to build awareness. Highlight why your product is the solution they need through case studies, comparison sheets, and stories distributed through email campaigns, your website, and social media.
Spring and summer are when educators will be ready to buy. They will have money left over in their budget before the fiscal year closes, or they will have money from their new budget. You will want to continue staying top of mind and driving more urgency in your marketing with promotional offers or valuable content.
3. Be aware of grant timelines
Depending on what you're selling, grants might be a way that schools can fund the purchase of your product or service outside of their annual operating budget. It's worth researching available grants to see if any apply to your product.
You can then develop marketing campaigns about the grant that you incorporate into your marketing plan, like sending emails notifying educators of grants, tips for filling out the grant application, or referrals to grant writers. Grants usually have long turnaround times, so be aware of that in your marketing and sales cycle.
4. Don't treat every educator role the same
As you put together your marketing plan, outline who at the schools you will need to market to and their roles. There is likely more than one educator that you will need to interact with, and they will have different perspectives.
You will need to talk about your product differently to each person and create different marketing activities to reach them. For example, a principal who is focused on the school, parents, and community will find value in different things than a teacher who is focused on their classroom and students.
They will also be in varying places for you to market to. For example, you might be more likely to find a principal at a conference and a teacher on social media. You may need to create marketing campaigns for each type of person within the school, depending on their importance to your sales process.
5. Surround the educators you're targeting with marketing
Marketing doesn't work when it is reactive or one-off. Sending a couple email campaigns or posting to social media for a month is not enough for marketing to work. People need to see a message at least seven to twelve times before noticing it. Think about your day-to-day and how easy it is for you to swipe past an email or ad. School administrators and teachers are the same.
It's best if you get in front of educators multiple times so they actually pause and engage back. First, your marketing messaging needs to be relevant and catch their eye. Second, a marketing plan (and sticking to it) is so important. If you brainstorm all the ways you can surround the people you are trying to reach and then write them down in a plan against a calendar, you will be more likely to implement them.
If you work with a sales team, coordinate with them on how to work together on an integrated plan targeting educators. For example, if they are attending a conference with a booth, marketing can promote attendance through email lists and social media.
Marketing plans targeting educators incorporate different marketing approaches than a typical B2B marketing plan. Researching the education market, your potential customers, and the schools and districts will benefit the effectiveness of your marketing and help you stand out at the right time.